Critique: Not ignorant, not helpless


Thousands of Americans portrait Muslim women as being oppressed, many feminists argue that Islam takes away their rights and voices without taking a closer look at the rules of Islam. They deliberately judge through the image the media portrays about countries like Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia where citizens interpret the Quran the wrong way. They fail to look at the other side of the coin where the other 44 Muslim countries allow their women to work, argue and take role in their society. A previously New York times, The village voice and Harpers Bazar writer Lorraine Ali, published the article Not ignorant, Not helpless in The News week . In the article, Ali informs the readers about the other side if Islam that the western society is unable to see.

 Since Lorraine Ali is an American that  lived in the Middle East, she is able to  view both sides of the portrait. On one  hand, she said “If I’d never known a  Muslim woman, I’d probably pity any  woman born in Islam” like every  American. On the other hand, she said  that she’d seen women all around the  Arab world involved with politics,  arguing in debates and working as  lawyers, doctors and so on. The author  clearly presents the idea that the  Americans get this false impression of  Islam oppressing women through the  Islamic conservation cases in countries  like Saudi Arabia that forbid women to  drive and Afghanistan that forbid them  to attend school but she says “these  societies are not the norm in the Muslim  world.” She quoted a Harvard Divinity  school professor and author of “Women  and Gender in Islam”, Leila Ahmed who  explained that no matter how Muslim  countries try build a closed society, they  won’t be able to take away the  openness the society already once lived  through . However, regardless of all  these oppression oppositions, women  still feel weak and exploited by men and  unfortunately, the West use the  ‘women’s rights’ issue against Islam.  She concludes stating that many Muslim  women still love the society they are  born in despite all the American  manipulation and if they’re looking  forward for any change they are the  ones that should start it.


The author uses accurate information and was able to clearly clarify phrases such as ‘cases of oppression’. She used three credible quotes significantly and was able to formally inform readers about her view logically and interpreted her sources fairly despite the fact that she relied totally on ethos and barely had any logos. She started the article by saying “if I’d never known a Muslim woman, I’d probably pity any female born in Islam”. She uses these words to attract the reader to read more in order to find out why is it that she would pity them. She tackled three views to the issue: the jihadist, the West and women. However, she didn’t provide any advice to how the image the West has drawn about Muslims could change.

The issue Ali discusses is a very sensitive one because as he mentioned in her article Khaled Abou El Fadl’s quote that “Historically the West has used the women's issue as a spear against Islam. It was raised in the time of the Crusades, used consistently in colonialism and is being used now. Muslim women have grown very, very sensitive about how they're depicted on either side." The West for a long time have used and continue to use misconceptions about women as a weakness to Islam. However, since females today are being used as a figure of sexuality in all advertisements even totally men oriented commercials to attract customers, Islam is only trying to do is protect its women from being exploited by society and specifically males. Hence I totally agree with every point she discussed in the article.


The piece was very interesting to read. It was simply a page turner as the author succeeded in convincing me with her point of view because she argued logically and the main ideas of the article were organized very well but it would have been better if she would have used statistics like for example the number of women that take lead in Muslim countries rather than generally stating that there are women who take good occupational positions.

Topic: Critique: Not ignorant, not helpless

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